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Comments

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Why Microsoft Is So Scared of OpenOffice

RomulusNR Why computer training never actually IS (421 comments)

A recurring theme in the criticisms -- perhaps the most painfully misanthropic -- is that, since staff are trained to use MS Office, they simply can't figure out Open Office, and everyone who's switched back to MSO from OOO has seen support time and staff frustration drop like a rock. (Of course, going from MS Office 2k3's traditional interface to MS Office 2k8's "Ribbon" caused absolutely no confusion at all!)

But why is this? Why are people trained eat the bread and sip the MS Kool Aid so utterly helpless when faced with an alternative that doesn't look the same?

Well, it's because people with minimal computer skills teach other people with no computer skills that, in order to make this word look blue, you click this button in this place. Not "look for a color changer and select blue". No, it has to be under THIS menu, with THAT name, and looks like THIS button.

We don't teach people how to use computers or even software. We teach them very specific, contextless mundane steps.

What saddens me most is that I was able to document this twelve years ago and it's still the same today.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Geim Never Patented Graphene

RomulusNR Re:One word: libel (325 comments)

If only they had their own internal corporate Tea Party to chide them for wasting money!

So much for running government like a business.... If we did that, we'd have jury duty every day, health insurance wouldn't exist, and the President would just live at Camp David playing golf, while telling us we're all lazy.

more than 3 years ago
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Turning Your Home Wiring Into a Giant Antenna

RomulusNR Building wiring as TV antenna (135 comments)

When I was in college, kids in the university's then-tallest building would not bother getting cable service, which the dorm was pre-wired for. But despite not having cable service, they plugged their TV's into the cable jacks anyway -- and it increased their OTA reception fourfold. The cable wires running through the building served as a huge 100-foot antenna.

about 4 years ago
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APB To Close Mere Months After Launch

RomulusNR What some consider "marketing" (185 comments)

I don't know about all this so-called marketing. The first time I heard of APB was at PAX East back in February. They had 8 stations set up logged into the game. They had one emotionless, utterly uninterested guy talking about how awesome the game was, who occasionally threw a T-shirt into the huge crowd amassing around their booth. He would then taunt everyone else by saying "the best way to get a shirt is to play the game".

Except NO ONE GOT TO PLAY. Well, a couple of people did. They'd get about 5 minutes on the station, which was enough to walk around a little, and... find nobody else. Then, when they got off, the stations would be taken over by booth staffers, who would dick around with the stations for 15 minutes or so.

The best way to get people to play your game is to LET THEM PLAY IT. When a crowd of people are surrounding your booth, interested in playing a game that has no legacy to spur familiarity or loyalty, you should make sure they get to play it. Especially if it's as awesome as you say (hearing the music being played by people driving past, etc.). And you should provide a decent playzone or sandbox where they can actually do useful things instead of ooh and aah at your now-industry-standard graphics.

about 4 years ago
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Dell's 'Dual Personality' Laptop

RomulusNR Start taking bets (126 comments)

on how many of them will be returned with the screen hinges busted after the first three months.

about 4 years ago
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Why Broadband Prices Haven't Decreased

RomulusNR The free market fallacy strikes again (336 comments)

The authors of TFA say they are "surprised" that despite the payoff of infrastructure and the age of the technology that prices have not come down.

It's as if they think rich people don't like money.

The only reason a rich person gives up money is if he thinks he will lose more if he doesn't give up a little -- or if he thinks it will lead to getting even more money back. I.e. competition. And progressive taxes.

There's zero reason for telecommunications companies to reduce rates. This notion that "they make enough now, therefore they should lower/stop raising rates" is so silly, it's like trying to argue that greed = benevolence.

And yet this very principle is the underpinning of the libertarian free market religion. But like those of all other religions, it is utterly flawed, unfounded, and unrealistic.

about 4 years ago
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Prosecutor Loses Case For Citing Wikipedia

RomulusNR Re:Was the barrister (attourney) paid ? (315 comments)

INB4 "How much longer are PATRIOTIC AMERICANS going to allow BARACK OSAMA to DESTROY the CHRISTIAN instiution of marriage?" or some such. It can't be much longer now...

more than 4 years ago
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Girl Seeks Help On Facebook During Assault

RomulusNR Confusing convention with brilliance (417 comments)

Is it really "quick thinking" or is it just "utilizing the only way she knows how to communicate?"

> LOL OMG MOMS BF HIT ME WTF
> OMG RLY?
> YA HE HIT ME
> OMG DAT SUX

Next time I'm assaulted and don't know how to get help, I'll try forcing lots of air through my tightened vocal chords. Who would think of that?

more than 4 years ago
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Has Any Creative Work Failed Because of Piracy?

RomulusNR Re:Loaded, incredibly smug, dithering question (1115 comments)

Nothing about that question is correct.

What on earth exactly is "proper rewards"? There is no such thing. Any estimation of such are based on presumptions by either the content creator or the distributor whom they license it to.

Let's say a photographer takes a picture. They offer it to media outlets for $100 a use. But only 10% of media outlets will pay it.

But if the photographer were to lower their price to $50 a use, perhaps 30% of media outlets would pay it. So despite lowering prices by half, their ROI becomes 50% greater.

The photog goes away griping that no one appreciates good photography anymore, etc. etc. But it is the photog themselves that is kicking themselves in the ass. Why? Because their notion of "proper rewards" is too rigid. While the photo might be $100 valuable to the originator, to everyone else it is likely worth, on average, less than that.

In the case of piracy, you have people who are unwilling to buy the work for the price stated. Instead, they take it for a lower price (free). But your loss is actually zero, because they wouldn't have bought it at your price anyway.

But most of this is irrelevant in the real world anyway, because the majority of artists (well, at least in music/movies/writing/etc) end up performing their work as "work for hire", and they are paid a flat price for their work that is unrelated to subsequent sales, usage, redistribution, even reimagining. In those cases, most artists don't get anything close to "proper rewards" either by their own standards or by that of a reasonable, uninvested third party.

This notion that piracy cuts into the artists proper rewards is the same argument that it cuts into the profits of record companies. You've just tried to make it folksy by taking out the corporate middleman. The applicable reasoning doesn't change.

more than 4 years ago
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What Nokia Must Do To Stay Relevant In Mobile

RomulusNR Look, it's simple (289 comments)

All they need to do is release a phone with the capabilities of the Moto Droid, and the durability of their own Nokia 3390.

Those things last forever. I know people who still use them despite only being good for phone calls and texts. (gasp, i know, do they cook over open fires too?) Other people would use them too, if they could slice, dice, and run Google Maps.

The last Nokia phone worth a look was the NGage, though mostly just for the look.

more than 4 years ago
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SCOTUS Rules Petiton Signatures Are Public Record

RomulusNR Re:While I agree that anonymity is a good thing... (780 comments)

It's not violence, indeed, but "violent oppression" includes intimidating (i.e. credible) threats of violence, in my book.

Well, I haven't read your book. It's best if we all work from the same book; ideally one that neither of us has written. In my case, I used Merriam Webster's book. If you insist on using your own book, don't expect the rest of the world to play by your rules -- or in your arbitrary namespaces.

Again, putting a sign on a lawn is neither violent oppression nor intimidation. Just exposure. And if it's put on the sidewalk, it's not even so much as trespassing. Exposure is not illegal. We have John Peter Zenger to thank for that.

As I said in my original comment (which you did read, right?), there's no more of such than there is a concerted effort at violence in the gay community in California.

Well, actually, someone said "the gay community is not going out of its way to violently oppress" people, and you disagreed (albeit noncommittally) by pointing out that a few gay-against-anti-gay incidents occured in California. Then you paid lip service (but noticeably provided no corresponding examples) to the notion that it has worked both ways. Despite ending with "it's bad on both sides and we should stop it", if you are presenting your post as not biased towards the notion that the gay community is inordinately practicing violent oppression, I beg to differ.

(Previously:)
> The gay community isn't exactly going out of its way to violently oppress those who oppose
> it, while the other side can't say the same.
That depends on where you live and how you define "gay community". In California during the Proposition 8 debates and right after its passage there was quite a number of rather ugly incidents.

You refuted an assertion that the "gay community" was not, as a collective group, committing "violent oppression" by pointing out that, in California, a few gay-against-anti-gay isolated incidents occured, at least according to a pro-prop-8 website that didn't list any names or sources. Later you gave lip service to the notion that there's been some animus in the other direction.

more than 4 years ago
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SCOTUS Rules Petiton Signatures Are Public Record

RomulusNR Re:While I agree that anonymity is a good thing... (780 comments)

before this particular petition, the state had found that these petitions did not fall under the Public records Act.

When was this? What was the petition number?

So, the people who signed this petition had reason to believe that their identities would not become general knowledge.

Sure, if you ignore the fact that they are signing them in public places, in broad daylight, in plain view of the general public, on a piece of paper left on a table for the next few hours, which will also be seen by as many as 30 or more subsequent signers (as well as people who read the petition but don't sign it), and which at the end of the day will be collected by a non-regulated or bonded private employee or volunteer who will hold onto them until eventually handing them into the private citizens running the group, and which will be in either private, non-government, non-regulated, non-bound peoples' hands until they are finally turned into the state -- IF the group ends up with enough signatures to bother doing so -- and even becoming remotely elegible for government-enforced secrecy, barring any laws that promote transparent government.

So yeah, other than all of that, it was done in complete guaranteed secrecy!

those who oppose your position are willing to use intimidation tactics (which is the case with this petition).

Telling people you are a homophobe is an intimidation tactic? Or do you have nighmares of imaginary mobs of men in dresses and misapplied lipstick painting your house pink in the middle of the night?

MPD.

more than 4 years ago
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SCOTUS Rules Petiton Signatures Are Public Record

RomulusNR Re:While I agree that anonymity is a good thing... (780 comments)

In point of fact, the process normally used by the state in this case is to take a sample of the signatures and verify those. According to the Sec of State this has been as small as 3%. Supposedly it depends on the proportion of signatures submitted over signatures required but the exact math is not disclosed. Normally they do not perform exhaustive verification.

And frankly, even when they do, they are extremely permissive about accepting signatures almost to the point of irrelevancy.

more than 4 years ago
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SCOTUS Rules Petiton Signatures Are Public Record

RomulusNR Re:While I agree that anonymity is a good thing... (780 comments)

I was going to take on your trolling directly, but then i realized it was much more amusing, and telling, that you use a (bad) childhood analogy to illustrate the thought process of your supporters.

more than 4 years ago
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SCOTUS Rules Petiton Signatures Are Public Record

RomulusNR Re:While I agree that anonymity is a good thing... (780 comments)

Violence is defined as "exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse", so that's how I would not characterize a sign saying "bigots live here" as violence.

Isolated incidents do not a concerted effort make. We have these things called police which you pay for with your tax dollars which is what we as a society have provided to handle just these sorts of occasions. And we have well-defined laws that divide actions into actually damaging, and things that you may not like but aren't criminally or unfairly damaging which you are left to accept as natural consequence of life.

What you're doing here is stereotyping gay people (and pro-gay people) based on three isolated incidents out of hundreds of thousands of petition signers. Which, frankly, considering your established position on groups of people that are not like you, it's not at all surprising.

PS, this written criticism of your logic, misappropriation, and prejudice should not be construed as "violence".

more than 4 years ago
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Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names

RomulusNR Just more nerd bashing! (773 comments)

Yes. It's programmer's fault that they write applications that make poor assumptions about names -- not the people who design software requirements who are neither programmers nor usually very worldly.

Perhaps we should have a list of "assumptions people make about developers"!
* Developers get to design their own software.
* Developers get to have some say in how their software is designed.
* Developers at least can prevent really stupid things from being put in the software they write.
* Developers aren't smart enough to know that outliers are inevitable.
* Developers aren't smart enough to know that of course there are people with punctuation, extra words and spaces, even letters that no one has seen before.
* Developers wouldn't rather code just one column to hold an identifier rather than two.

more than 4 years ago
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Google Releases Wi-Fi Sniffing Audit

RomulusNR You can see the effect of this on an Android phone (198 comments)

For some time now I've noticed that the My Location radius in Google Maps for Android gets much smaller when you are in signal range of an open wireless access point. (Assuming you don't have GPS on.) Android / Maps seems to use three different RF methods of location. 1, cell towers, 2, WiFi APs, 3, GPS. (Turn off WiFi and a medium radius will revert to the typical .5-2km cell tower radius.)

There is an interesting side effect to this. I moved last November and naturally took my WiFi access point with me. I kept the same router config, and same broadband service (and probably even same external gateway -- it was about 2 mi away). When I am at home, and I use My Location on my G1, it shows me at my old house. That was a dead giveaway that Google was storing location info of WiFi points -- and in this case, returning a stale location.

more than 4 years ago
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Bill Gives Feds "Emergency" Powers To Secure Civilian Nets

RomulusNR Head scratch (505 comments)

So it's okay for the federal government to swoop in and take over privately owned data lines and equipment nodes because it's a common public data infrastructure.... but its NOT okay for the federal government to swoop in and say that these data lines and equipment nodes have to provide the public with equal access to other lines and nodes?

Thanks so much... Where do I get off this runaway train?

more than 4 years ago
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Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Benchmarked and Reviewed

RomulusNR Everything is relative (164 comments)

It beats the hell out of XP and that's good enough for me. Thank you, Ubuntu, you've made two aging/underpowered machines suddenly useful again.

more than 4 years ago
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Convert a SIM To a MicroSIM, With a Meat Cleaver

RomulusNR Re:From Office of Making Things Unnecessarily Smal (302 comments)

Just think, the original SIM cards were as big as the piece of plastic you now punch them out of.
The common SIM we use today is properly called Mini-SIM.
SIMs use the same technology as smart cards (which every European credit card now is*), so they were originally the same size... no doubt this was back when mobile phones were the size of bricks or worse.

* We had a French foreign exchange student a few months ago, she tried to use her credit card at a gift shop, and couldn't figure out what she was supposed to do with it as there was no smart card reader. The swipe-and-sign method was completely foreign to her (literally!) just as the chip-and-pin method is foreign (and unavailable) to us. It was enlightening.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

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Google to end GOOG-411

RomulusNR RomulusNR writes  |  more than 3 years ago

RomulusNR (29439) writes "Google will shut down 1-800-GOOG-411 in just over a month, according to the Official Google Blog. According to Google, the point of the service was never to provide a useful service to people, but to collect lots and lots of voice data for speech recognition research. Now that they've collected enough data, they don't need it any more; no mention of whether anyone else needs it. In lieu of this backwards-compatible, cross-platform, completely hands-free service, Google suggests you move on to their limited-platform, UI-dependent, mobile-only voice and SMS search apps."
Link to Original Source
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Yahoo blocks 14 year old list over false positives

RomulusNR RomulusNR writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RomulusNR writes "Yahoo! has stopped delivering This Is True, Randy Cassingham's 14-year-old mailing list, because too many Yahoo! readers have mistakenly or carelessly flagged it as spam. Yahoo! readers make up over 10% of True's readership, slashing the ad revenue that keeps it going. And Yahoo! doesn't negotiate with spammers. As Randy describes it: "The yahoos who ask to be put on True's distribution, then confirm that request, and ...then click the 'This is Spam' button when they don't recognize the mailing or simply don't want it anymore. Yes, those yahoos have screwed thousands upon thousands of others who really do want my newsletter. Too bad: Yahoo is listening to the yahoos instead: they're blocking it. To them, we're 'spammers' and no protestations from 'spammers' count." The irony is that "This is True", one of the first profitable mailing lists, predates Yahoo! Mail by almost three years."
Link to Original Source
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Sun racks fall over, keep ticking

RomulusNR RomulusNR writes  |  more than 7 years ago

RomulusNR writes "German blog Systemhelden (System Heroes) reports a story of a raised floor tile giving way under two loaded Sun racks, which toppled over. The admins have no idea when it happened, because everything kept running. Sun techs came in and found only a single failed disk drive. (Via c0t0d0s0, which covers it in English.)"
Link to Original Source
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RomulusNR RomulusNR writes  |  about 8 years ago

RomulusNR writes "A number of blogs, including GoogleWatch and Bostonist are circulating reports that Comcast subscribers in the Boston metro area are unable to view Google or YouTube under Firefox. The sites work fine in IE. Comcast techs are telling people to switch to IE and blaming the problem on Google. People in the Boston Craiglist computer forum are swapping outage and tech call stories."

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